Australia Aims to Avert Port Strike

Posted by Joseph Keefe
Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Teekay Shipping took part in Australian government-sponsored mediation talks on Tuesday to avert industrial action by tugboat operators that could halt a quarter of global seaborne iron ore exports.

There were no immediate comments on any outcome from the talks. BHP Billiton has previously warned that a strike by tugboat operators at Port Hedland on the Indian Ocean could cost up to $100 million in lost revenue each day.

Deckhands, engineers and masters of the tugboats that guide vessels in and out of the port are pressing operator Teekay Shipping for more pay and leave.

Deckhands, represented by the Maritime Union of Australia, last week approved plans to strike for one, two or seven days but have yet to decide whether to stop work. Any strike by them would have to take place by June 11.

Teekay and the union had mediation talks on Tuesday held by Australia's industrial tribunal, the Fair Work Commission. A second round is due to take place in June.

If there is no resolution, one way the government could halt a strike by arguing the action would hurt Australia's economy.

Teekay could look at replacing deckhands with non-union workers, but people familiar with the issue said a lack of trained replacements would rule that out.

"We want to ensure the dispute does not impact our day-to-day operations and we are reviewing all options available to us to mitigate any potential impact on our business going forward," Fortescue Metals Group Chief Executive Nev Power said in a statement.

He did not elaborate but Fortescue is within its rights to ask the Fair Work Commission to stop the strike as a third party facing damages.

Iron ore is Australia's biggest export earner. The value of exports are forecast to climb 35 percent to A$76.8 billion ($71.80 billion)in the year to June 2014 from a year earlier, according to the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics.

BHP has already warned that a strike would cost $100 million in lost sales a day, based on exports running at around 1.1 million tonnes a day at a price around $100 a tonne.

"BHP's broadcasting its position to obtain support from other stakeholders, so they could seek an order for suspending or terminating protected industrial action in a case where significant economic damage is being inflicted on the Australian economy," said Tim Greenall, counsel at law firm Madgwicks.

The government is so far monitoring the situation.

"At this stage we're just hopeful both parties can reach an agreement," said David Allender, a spokesman for Employment Minister Senator Eric Abetz.

The deck hands have been the first to back strike action.

The engineers, represented by the Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers, are voting on a plan to strike for up to two days, with the ballot result due on June 10. Tugboat captains, represented by the Australian Maritime Officers Union, hold a ballot due on May 30.

All crews work 28 days on, then get 28 days off. The deckhands want four weeks of leave on top of that and are pressing for pay equivalent to 70 percent of the A$220,000 that masters earn, up from A$135,000 a year.

 

Reporting by Sonali Paul

Maritime Reporter May 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

People & Company News

Matson Completes Horizon Lines Acquisition

Matson, Inc. has completed the acquisition of Horizon Lines, Inc. which includes Horizon's Alaska operations and the assumption of all non-Hawaii business liabilities.

Wärtsilä Acquires L-3 MSI

Wärtsilä completes acquisition of L-3 Marine Systems International    Wärtsilä Corporation announced that its acquisition of the Germany based L-3 Marine Systems

BWTS Newcomer Sees Early Success

Norwegian manufacturer of ballast water treatment systems MMC Green Technology reports it has sold more than 70 systems since going commercial with its MMC BWMS two years ago,

Legal

Frontline Beats Q1 Forecasts, Inks Ship Finance Deal

Crude oil tanker firm Frontline posted first-quarter operating profit above expectations on Friday and said it had renegotiated its relationship with chartering

Thailand: 300 "boat people" Landed in Recent Weeks

Around 300 "boat people" have landed on Thailand's shores in recent weeks, Sek Wannamethee, director-general of the information department at Thailand's Foreign Ministry, said on Friday.

U.S.: China Placed Artillery on Reclaimed Island

The United States said on Friday that China had placed mobile artillery weapons systems on a reclaimed island in the disputed South China Sea, a development that Republican Sen.

Bulk Carrier Trends

Wage Row Between Argentine Crushers, Companies Reaches Crunch Point

Pressure grew on Friday for a resolution to wage talks between exporters and striking crushers in Argentina's Rosario grains hub, with another powerful union threatening

Vale to Ship Coal Along Mozambique Nacala Corridor

Brazilian miner Vale SA  plans to start exporting coal along the Nacala rail and port corridor in Mozambique and Malawi in the third quarter after heavy rains damaged the rail line,

Q88 LLC Opens Office in London

Q88 LLC has opened a new office in London. Located in Soho, the cultural center of London's West End district, the office will serve as a hub for business development and client relations.

Ports

Wage Row Between Argentine Crushers, Companies Reaches Crunch Point

Pressure grew on Friday for a resolution to wage talks between exporters and striking crushers in Argentina's Rosario grains hub, with another powerful union threatening

Matson Completes Horizon Lines Acquisition

Matson, Inc. has completed the acquisition of Horizon Lines, Inc. which includes Horizon's Alaska operations and the assumption of all non-Hawaii business liabilities.

Chile Customs Strike Ends After 8 Days

A customs strike in Chile that had held up exports and imports for over a week has ended after the union said on Friday it had come to an agreement with the government.

People in the News

Mass. Maritime Taps McDonald as New President

EVP Fran McDonald tops a field of five; choice still must be approved by Massachusetts Board of Higher Education.   Pending a confirmation vote by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education (BHE),

Frontline Beats Q1 Forecasts, Inks Ship Finance Deal

Crude oil tanker firm Frontline posted first-quarter operating profit above expectations on Friday and said it had renegotiated its relationship with chartering

Thailand: 300 "boat people" Landed in Recent Weeks

Around 300 "boat people" have landed on Thailand's shores in recent weeks, Sek Wannamethee, director-general of the information department at Thailand's Foreign Ministry, said on Friday.

Government Update

Mexico Removes Bid Limit on Shallow Water Oil Tenders

Mexico's oil regulator voted on Friday to relax previously established rules on bidding terms and contracts that form the first step in an historic sector opening

Chile Customs Strike Ends After 8 Days

A customs strike in Chile that had held up exports and imports for over a week has ended after the union said on Friday it had come to an agreement with the government.

Mass. Maritime Taps McDonald as New President

EVP Fran McDonald tops a field of five; choice still must be approved by Massachusetts Board of Higher Education.   Pending a confirmation vote by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education (BHE),

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Offshore Oil Pipelines Pod Propulsion Port Authority Ship Simulators Sonar
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.1813 sec (6 req/sec)